Post List

  • May 28, 2010
  • 11:13 AM

This Is Your Brain's Anti-Drug

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

What's your anti-drug? Well, it might well be hemopressin. At least, that's probably your anti-marijuana.Hemopressin is a small protein that was discovered in the brains of rodents in 2003: its name comes from the fact that it's a breakdown product of hemoglobin and that it can lower blood pressure.No-one seems to have looked to see whether hemopressin is found in humans, yet, but it seems very likely. Almost everything that's in your brain is in a mouse's brain, and vice versa.Pharmacologically........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 11:12 AM

Repost: Suminia: Life in the Trees 260 Million Years Ago

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Color-coded diagram of a small bone bed containing at least twelve individuals of the Permian synapsid Suminia. From Frobisch and Reisz (2009)

When I hear the phrase "early human relative" I cannot help but think of an ape-like creature. Something like Sahelanthropus fits the bill nicely - it may not be a hominin but it is still a close relative from around the time that the first hominins evolved. That is why I was a bit puzzled to see parroting a story written by the Discovery C........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 10:37 AM

One bourbon, one scotch…

by Richard Grant in Naturally Selected

Culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
When we go to art galleries or see plays or listen to music, we invariably do it in the company of other people. We will often have dinner or a drink before, after, or even during the performance (whether in the interval or not).

Art abhors a vacuum
And not much improves [...]... Read more »

Naiping Hu, Dan Wu, Kelly Cross, Sergey Burikov, Tatiana Dolenko, Svetlana Patsaeva, & Dale W. Schaefer. (2010) Structurability: A Collective Measure of the Structural Differences in Vodkas. J. Agric. Food Chem. info:/10.1021/jf100609c

  • May 28, 2010
  • 09:49 AM

I remember because my DNA was methylated

by Grant Jacobs in Code for life

Our memories keep our yesterdays, our friends’ faces, the distinctive smell of previous partners, if we’ve read that book before, what clothes you wore to the party.
Movies and books have been written about memories. Or the trials not being able to keep them.2
Poets and lyricists evoke them, talk about them and reminiscence over them: “Preserve your memories, [...]... Read more »

Miller CA, Gavin CF, White JA, Parrish RR, Honasoge A, Yancey CR, Rivera IM, Rubio MD, Rumbaugh G, & Sweatt JD. (2010) Cortical DNA methylation maintains remote memory. Nature neuroscience, 13(6), 664-6. PMID: 20495557  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 09:34 AM

Eye Color Predicts and Doesn't Predict Perceived Dominance

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

An upcoming study Personality and Individual Differences links eye color to perceived dominance ratings. But there's more to the study than immediately reaches the eye...... Read more »

Kleisner, K., Kočnar, T., Rubešová, A., & Flegr, J. (2010) Eye color predicts but does not directly influence perceived dominance in men. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(1), 59-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.03.011  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 09:22 AM

Falling Child Mortality - Where we are on Millennium Development Goal 4

by Ryan in Upon*the.People

The release several days ago of revised estimates for global child mortality showing that mortality has fallen faster than we previously expected was a cause for celebration. As one of the eight targets of the Millennium Development Goals, child mortality is among the better indicators we have for the health status of a given population, and is, in the words of Michael Marmot, "the health outcome most sensitive to the effects of absolute material deprivation."[Children in Burma; The Ir........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Just the job?

by Wellcome Trust in Wellcome Trust Blog

You may have groaned when the alarm clock went off for work this morning, but it’s long been recognised that employment is important for wellbeing. Being part of a team and having a sense of purpose can improve your quality of life. Such benefits can be especially important for people who may find themselves on [...]... Read more »

Howard, L., Heslin, M., Leese, M., McCrone, P., Rice, C., Jarrett, M., Spokes, T., Huxley, P., & Thornicroft, G. (2010) Supported employment: randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 196(5), 404-411. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.061465  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Praise the Effort Not the Result!

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

Earlier this week, I read an immensely readable book called “:59 Seconds” by Richard Wiseman, Professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, UK.
The book elegantly exposes the often-heard modern-day myths promoted by the self-help industry by looking at the actual scientific evidence behind buzzwords like positive thinking, visualization, or brainstorming.
As [...]... Read more »

Mueller CM, & Dweck CS. (1998) Praise for intelligence can undermine children's motivation and performance. Journal of personality and social psychology, 75(1), 33-52. PMID: 9686450  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 07:00 AM

Coastal birds, innocent vectors of heavy metal pollution

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

Michelutti, N., Blais, J., Mallory, M., Brash, J., Thienpont, J., Kimpe, L., Douglas, M., & Smol, J. (2010) Trophic position influences the efficacy of seabirds as metal biovectors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001333107  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 05:11 AM

Men with brown eyes are perceived as more dominant, but it's not because their eyes are brown

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Men with brown eyes are perceived to be more dominant than their blue-eyed counterparts. However, a blue-eyed man looking to make himself appear more dominant would be wasting his time investing in brown-coloured contact lenses. A new study by Karel Kleisner and colleagues has found that brown iris colour seems to co-occur with some other aspect of facial appearance that triggers in others the perception of dominance. Sixty-two student participants, half of them female, rated the dominance and/o........ Read more »

Kleisner, K., Kočnar, T., Rubešová, A., & Flegr, J. (2010) Eye color predicts but does not directly influence perceived dominance in men. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(1), 59-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.03.011  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 02:23 AM

The University of Twitter, UK: A Quick Survey

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

Many people are still trying to work out exactly what twitter is good for but with more than 41 million users worldwide [1], the website is clearly popular with those who like to communicate via short “sound bites” of 140 characters or less. Communication is an important part of what Universities are all about, so [...]... Read more »

Haewoon Kwak, Changhyun Lee, Hosung Park, & Sue Moon. (2010) What is Twitter, a social network or a news media?. WWW '10: Proceedings of the 19th international conference on World wide web, New York, NY, USA, 591-600. DOI: 10.1145/1772690.1772751  

  • May 28, 2010
  • 01:10 AM

Friday Weird Science: College Student Regrets

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Sci happened to be Pubmedding the word "vomit"* today when she ran across this article. It's one of those articles that is weird because it's. So. Obvious.

Mallett et al. "Do We Learn from Our Mistakes? An Examination of the Impact of Negative Alcohol-Related Consequences on College Students' Drinking Patterns and Perceptions" J Stud Alcohol. 2006

That's right. The study of vomiting, hangovers, blackouts, and other stupid stuff you did in college.

(Including when you wore this shirt aroun........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 09:42 PM

Ardipithecus Drama!

by zinjanthropus in A Primate of Modern Aspect

Ooooo, is there some Ardi drama today!  Two technical comments were published in science which question the conclusions reached by Tim White and his team in last September’s Ardi blitz.  The comment by Esteban Sarmiento was particularly interesting, particularly this quote: In contrast to what the authors describe in other papers, the LCA character conditions [...]... Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 08:09 PM

Fixing the Psychiatric Diagnosis Problem: A New Genetic Framework

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Progress in understanding the genetics of common psychiatric disorders has been disappointing. Promising findings commonly cannot be replicated in independent samples. There could be several potential explanations for this scenario.1.) There may be no genetic contributions to risk and findings represent random effects2.) Genetic effects are complex, due to multiple genes or explain only a small amount of the risk variance for the disorders3.) The psychiatric diagnostic categories are inherentl........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 06:45 PM


by Toaster Sunshine in Mad Scientist, Junior

When I came across this post "Medical Advice for Headbangers" on Boing Boing today, I couldn't help but click through to read the paper. What I found was a pun-fest of scholarly research, and I'm left intensely curious about who funded this research. Ironically enough, at the time I came across the post I was listening to an auto-swung version of Metallica's "Enter the Sandman" (songs run through a rather neat Python script to swing them*).When Toaster was a young whelp in The Ozarks, it event........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 04:12 PM

Headless HA: Universal influenza vaccine?

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

A serious shortcoming of current influenza virus vaccines is the need to reformulate them every year or two as the virus undergoes antigenic drift. Many virologists have been captivated by the idea of a more universal vaccine that would endure longer, perhaps a decade or more. The identification of a conserved domain in the stalk [...]... Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 03:17 PM

Syntax found in the brain -- not in Broca's area

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

Syntactic processing and Broca's area have been cozy bedfellows ever since work in the 1970s showed that patients with Broca's aphasia had difficulty comprehending syntactically complex sentences. Despite the fact that further lesion based evidence severely weakened the relationship (e.g., Broca's aphasics are pretty good at grammaticality judgments) subsequent PET and fMRI studies prolonged the marriage by showing that the comprehension of complex sentences activates Broca's area more than sim........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 02:30 PM

The empathetic vegetarian brain

by NeuroKüz in NeuroKüz

It is often the case that meatless lifestyles are chosen for ethical reasons related to valuing animal rights. As a consequence of their food choices, vegetarians and vegans are often accused of and taunted for loving animals more than people. But do most vegetarians care less for fellow humans than animals, care for humans and animals equally, or care more for humans than animals but still care more for animals than omnivores do?A study published yesterday in PLoS ONE has attempted to parse out........ Read more »

Filippi M, Riccitelli G, Falini A, Di Salle F, Vuilleumier P, Comi G, & Rocca MA. (2010) The Brain Functional Networks Associated to Human and Animal Suffering Differ among Omnivores, Vegetarians and Vegans. PLoS ONE. info:/

  • May 27, 2010
  • 02:21 PM

Sexually-mature tortoises are at greatest risk of disease

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Currently, upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) and habitat loss are the main contributors to a decline in gopher and desert tortoise populations. And since these reptiles are keystone species—that is, the habitats they create are home to more than 300 other species—their population decline significantly affects the ecosystem. According to a recent study in Ecology, sexually-mature male tortoises were at the greatest risk of carrying and spreading URTD due in large part to their social beh........ Read more »

Wendland, L., Wooding, J., White, C., Demcovitz, D., Littell, R., Berish, J., Ozgul, A., Oli, M., Klein, P., Christman, M.... (2010) Social behavior drives the dynamics of respiratory disease in threatened tortoises. Ecology, 91(5), 1257-1262. DOI: 10.1890/09-1414.1  

  • May 27, 2010
  • 02:03 PM

Rump-Shaking Red-Eyed Treefrogs

by Kelsey in Mauka to Makai

Ensuring paternity is not easy for male red-eyed treefrogs. At night, males perch themselves on the branches of saplings and make a sound called a “chack.” Each male hopes that a female will find his chack to be the sexiest chack of all—if she can even distinguish his chack from those of the other males. [...]... Read more »

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